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Pelham Puppets

  • Mark Hill
  • 01 Apr 2010

Pelham MerlinFormer architect, Robert Pelham (1919-1980) founded ‘Wonky Toys Ltd’ in Marlborough in 1947 and within a year he had created his first puppet: a black girl called Chloe. He soon realised that ‘children in all the lands of this world wanted puppets like her to play with’. A year later, the company was renamed ‘Pelham Puppets Ltd’ and began producing other memorable characters such as Sandy McBoozle and Wonky Cowboy.

pelham pinocchioIn 1953, Pelham Puppets acquired the rights to manufacture Walt Disney characters. Pinocchio, the puppet who dreamed of being a real boy, was the most often produced and is, therefore, relatively easy to find for under £50. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, and Cinderella are less common and can be found for £60-180. Other characters depicted by Pelham include Andy Pandy, Noddy and Big Ears, the Muppets, the Thunderbirds and Pink Panther. A rare early character such as Big Ears might be worth up to £500.

At its peak the company produced thousands of each characters and many people have held onto puppets from their childhood so condition is very important. Puppets that do not appear to have been obviously played with and are without blemishes or scratches, retaining their strings are more desirable. The original box can also greatly increase the value. If properly matched with its contents, the box can also be used to help date the puppet as different designs were used.

Find out more...
'Pelham Puppets: A Collector's Guide', by David Leech, published by the Crowood Press Ltd.

Pelham Charming and RRH   Pelham Turnip and Witch